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Archive for April, 2015

Globalisation: Homogeneity or Diversity Exercise

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Applying concepts of McDonaldisation and Disneyfication to contemporary cultural products helps students get to grips with the concept of globalisation (particularly its cultural form, but also its economic form). These concepts also provide a relatively easy way for students to explore some of the effects of globalisation in terms of cultural homogenisation and diversity theories.

The Exercise

In small groups, using the following table as a template choose a category, such as film (or add your own) and identify any common cultural products for your age group that you think conform to the idea of McDonaldisation and/or Disneyfication.

Once you’ve done this, repeat the process – but this time identify cultural products that don’t conform to McDonaldisation and/or Disneyfication.

   Television  Music  Film  Web sites
McDonaldisation Cartoons

 

Pop [bands are manufactured to appeal to certain age and gender group]  Romantic comedies [follow standard themes and developments]  

 

 

Disneyfication

 

 

 

 

 

     

Teachers can use this exercise to introduce:

  1. Globalising processes.
  2. Globalising effects.
  3. Concepts of globalisation / glocalisation.

McDonaldisation

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

George Ritzer has used the analogy of McDonalds (hence, “McDonaldisation”) to illustrate the rationalization of society and culture through 5 distinctive processes:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Calculability
  3. Predictability
  4. Irrationality
  5. Control.

This poster gives you a bit more information about each.

Disneyfication

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Bryman’s (1999) concept of “disneyfication” refers to the various processes involved in contemporary social and organisational change and for our (A-level) purposes we can understand these processes in terms of 4 key concepts:

  1. Theming
  2. De-differentiation of Consumption
  3. Merchandising
  4. Emotional Labour.

If you want to explore these ideas further this simple poster should suffice.

Revise Psychology: Reductionism

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Psychology Revision series for A-level and AP Psychology teachers and students.

This revision film uses the example of obesity to outline and evaluate reductionist and holistic approaches in psychology.

The full film is available to rent (48 hours) or buy from our on-demand site and covers key:

  • definitions: reductionism, scientific parsimony, holism
  • applications: obesity,
  • evaluations: uses and limitations of reductionist and holistic approaches.

Psychology: Socially-Sensitive Research

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Socially-Sensitive Research looks at ways to help you structure exam answers around three key questions:

  1. Should the research be done?
  2. How should research findings be used?
  3. How should research findings be communicated?

The full film – now available on-demand to rent or buy – covers key:

  • knowledge: understanding social sensitivity, ethics
  • examples: Autism (Baron-Cohen, Auyeung), Kamin, Asbury and Plomin, Sieber and Stanley
  • application: understanding socially sensitive research through the examples of autism, genetics and education.

New Media: 1. Features

Friday, April 24th, 2015

This short series of blog posts looks at various dimensions of new media, beginning with a broad overview of some key distinquishing features:

As Socha and Eber-Schmid (2012) argue “Part of the difficulty in defining New Media is that there is an elusive quality to the idea of new”. This “elusive quality” can, perhaps, be best captured by thinking about how Crosbie (2002) suggests three features of new media make them qualitatively different to old media:

  • They can’t exist without the appropriate (computer) technology.
  • Information can be personalised; individualised messages tailored to the particular needs of those receiving them can be simultaneously delivered to large numbers of people.
  • Collective control means each person in a network can share, shape and change the content of the information being exchanged.

As an example Crosbie suggests “Imagine visiting a newspaper website and seeing not just the bulletins and major stories you wouldn’t have known about, but also the rest of that edition customized to your unique needs and interests. Rather than every reader seeing the same edition, each reader sees an edition simultaneously individualized to their interests and generalized to their needs”.

A further feature of new media is its capacity to be truly global in scope and reach. While older technologies like TV and film have global features – the American and Indian film industries, for example, span the globe – they are fundamentally local technologies; they are designed to be consumed by local audiences that just happen to be in different countries while new media, such as web sites or social networks, are global in intent. They enable global connections through the development of information networks based on the creation and exchange of information. A significant aspect of these global features is the ability to create and share text, images, videos and the like across physical borders through cyberspace.

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New Media: 2. Issues

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

The various features of new media raise a new set of issues for both producers and consumers. In terms of the former, for example, the development of global computer networks have presented problems for media industries whose products are relatively easy to copy and distribute, with no loss of quality because of digital reproduction. The development of peer-to-peer networks, for example, has led to the rise of global forms of intellectual property theft (“piracy”), to which media conglomerates have responded in a range of ways:

  • legal prosecutions of individual offenders and attempts to shut-down illegal providers, such as Napster and Megaupload.
  • the development of new economic models. “Freemium” models, for example, provide a free service, such as software or a game, but users then pay a premium for “added extras”. Popular Facebook games, such as Farmville, have successfully taken this approach..

A further issue involves the “unauthorised access to computers and networks” (“hacking”), something that involves:

  • governments: cyberwarfare, for example, involves governments engaging in the politically-motivated hacking of rival government computer networks for reasons that range from espionage to sabotage.
  • organisations: In 2010 the American government claimed the cybertheft of copyrights and patents by China remained at “unacceptable levels”.
  • individuals: viruses and malware designed to damage computers, extort money or steal information.

Specific issues for consumers have a number of dimensions, particularly those surrounding personal privacy. Social media such as Facebook make money through advertising, which can now be individualised, personalised and targeted through the sale of users’ personal data to third-parties; users, therefore, exchange “free” services for some loss of privacy. While corporations such as Facebook simply monitor how their network is used in terms of what an individual likes or dislikes, discusses or avoids in order to deliver adverts matched to these behaviours, Kosinski et al. (2013) have shown it is possible to accurately infer a wide range of personal information, such as ethnicity, IQ, sexuality, substance use and political views, from an analysis of an individual’s “likes”.

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Psychology: Ethnocentrism

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Our latest free film in the psychology revision series for A-level and AP Psychology teachers and students is designed to highlight:

  • the ideas you need to grasp (such as how ethnocentrism is defined and socially constructed) and
  • skills you need to display (applying your knowledge of researcher, conceptual and reporting bias and evaluating the uses and limitations of the concept) to construct effective exam answers.

You can also check-out our other Psychology Revision films at our On-Demand site.

New Media 3: Implications – digital optimism

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

The development of new media has led to a general debate about the implications of changing technologies and their impact on economic, political and cultural life, polarised around two opposing views – the first of which can be characterised as:

digital optimism

From this viewpoint the defining characteristic of new media is a form of digital liberation based, for Negroponte (1995), on four processes:

These processes impact on society in a range of ways:

In economic terms we see the development of new models of production, distribution and exchange, particularly “free” or “gifting” models where the consumer pays nothing to use a medium. One significant new model is the development of open economic systems where software, for example, is developed collaboratively to take advantage of wide creative pools of talent – an idea Tapscott and Williams (2008) call “Wikinomics” to reflect the pioneering collaborative efforts of Wikipedia.

Producers, especially large corporations, have to be more responsive to consumer demands because the ability to act as a global crowd, passing information swiftly from individual to individual, means corporate behaviour is continually being monitored, evaluated and held to account. Surowiecki (2005) argues digital technology facilitates crowd-sourcing, a process based on “the wisdom of crowds”; if you ask enough people their opinion a basic “crowd truth” will emerge.

Politically, the global flow of information weakens the hold of the State over individuals and ideas. Repressive State actions are much harder to disguise or keep secret when populations have access to instant forms of mass communication, such as Twitter. The Internet also makes it harder for the State to censor or restrict the flow of information and this contributes to political socialisation by way of greater understanding of the meaning of issues and events.

Culturally, behaviour can be both participatory and personalised, processes that in cyberspace can be complementary. The global village combines collectivity with individuality; cooperation flourishes while people simultaneously maintain what Negroponte calls the “Daily Me” – the personalisation of things like news and information focused around the specific interests of each individual. Personalisation contributes to participation through the development of a diverse individuality that leads to the development of new ways of thinking and behaving. The ability to be anonymous on the web encourages both freedom of speech and whistle-blowing.

Taken from:

Cambridge International AS and A Level Sociology Coursebook (UK)

ciebook

Cambridge International AS and A Level Sociology Coursebook (USA)

Psychology: The Nature-Nurture Debate

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

This revision film frames and explains the nature-nurture debate around two classic applications:

  1. Bandura’s BoBo doll and
  2. Fallon’s neuroscience experiments.

The full film, now available on-demand to rent or buy, covers key revision:

  • knowledge: framing the nature-nurture debate, neuroscience
  • applications: psychological approaches, Bandura, Fallon
  • evaluation: the arguments for and against nature / nurture approaches